Drink & Dine: Wines for Summer’s Last Gasp
Whether via a backyard barbecue, a sunset viewing on the balcony, a beach picnic or simply a quiet sit-down with a book, acknowledging summer’s final act is something we should do with purpose … and with food and wine. Photo: DisobeyArt/Getty Images
It may be a long weekend in summer, but Labour Day also bears the stigma of being the last long weekend in summer, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, while serving as the psychological bridge between freewheeling, sunny days, and workaday autumn.
That said, September is typically a lovely month with enough warmth to ensure we can still leave the house without a parka or boots, and it’s the time when proper cooking returns to our radar. All of that kicks in after the long weekend, however. For Labour Day proper, the priority is wringing one last blast from the calendar’s sweetest season.
Whether via a backyard barbecue, a sunset viewing on the balcony, a beach picnic or simply a quiet sit-down with a book, acknowledging summer’s final act is something we should do with purpose … and with food and wine because, well, food and wine. To that end, we offer three drink picks — a red, a white and a rosé — that check all the boxes of warm-weather drinking. Thanks, summer 2022!
Grab a Red … Barbera
Low in tannins, best drunk young (as opposed to cellared), and easy on the wallet, this workhorse grape from Northern Italy is light-bodied but packs a colour and flavour punch, with notes of cherry, clove, vanilla and nutmeg rising from its rich purple hue. Though cultivated in California, Australia, and Argentina, Barbera from the Piedmont region is the classic selection and, as with Chianti or Pinot Noir, slight chilling really opens the wine up.
Finding a decent bottle under $20 should be a breeze, while its relative acidity means it pairs well with rich or fatty dishes, like mushroom risotto, red meat, blue cheese or — maybe best — grilled portobello mushroom with melted blue cheese. It also pairs exceptionally well with nothing more than a glass and a positive attitude.
Grab a White … Vinho Verde
If there was such a thing as the wine police, they’d crack down hard on miscreants caught drinking Vinho Verde after Labour Day. The lightly fizzy, citrusy, lower alcohol wine from Portugal is a slam dunk with foods we often associate with summer: fish tacos, ceviche and anything featuring lime, mango, cilantro or similarly bright flavours.
Like Barbera (or Baco Noir for that matter), it’s a wine best drunk young and fresh rather than cellared, its ephemeral nature somehow spiritually simpatico with summer. And while Vinho Verde can be white, red, or rosé — its name refers to the winemaking style, not a grape varietal — white seems apropos in summer. Funny enough, Vinho Verde also pairs exceptionally well with just a glass and a positive attitude. Drink it while you still can (even if it’s available year-round).
Grab a Rosé … Sancerre Rosé
No, we’re not kidding. Sure, Sancerre is synonymous with — and most famous for — Sauvignon Blanc, but the central Loire Valley area also produces rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes. (Don’t tell Provence about this). The wine’s salmon colour looks wonderful in the glass and its high acidity means it can hold its own against vegetables off the grill as well as anything featuring soft cheeses, like Greek salad with feta or goat cheese with baguette. While Sancerre Rosés might not be as easy to find, it is a great talking point if you’re headed to the home of a wine nerd.
Speaking of rosé, we’d be remiss in not mentioning that pride-of-Portugal Mateus Rosé celebrates its 80th anniversary this year with three limited-edition bottles available across Canada, each with a design that is music-themed: fado, rock and dance. The bottles look gorgeous and are ideal for gifting a friend as you watch a final summer sunset together.